Alexandria, La., June 1, 2020 — From 1974 to 1976, Don Sanders was a welding student at
what was then known as the Alexandria Trade School. Now the Director of Welding Technology
for Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC), Sanders is returning to the
classroom as a student seeking an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) from
Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.
Sanders was named the recipient of the 2020-2021 William Kielhorn Educator Scholarship, a
national scholarship from the American Welding Society Foundation designed to assist current
welding educators improve their knowledge and training skills through continuing education or
“He (Kielhorn) was a welding education professor in Texas,” Sanders said. “He had a real solid
work ethic. He died in 2012 and he taught his last class from a bed in the ICU. After reading
that, I feel honored and humbled to be chosen for this scholarship.”
That passion for teaching students is something Sanders shares with Kielhorn. “My goal is to
first of all improve myself as a teacher. I want to be able to make an impact on the welding
students I am over,” he said. “And, even though I am 62, I still want to keep myself marketable
in the workforce. I’m trying to improve my education and be an example.”
Ray Peters, formerly with RoyOMartin in Alexandria, is MBA Director at Nicholls. “I’ve known
Don for several years,” Peters said. “We both participated in the Manufacturer’s Council in
Alexandria. Don shared with us that he had received this AWS scholarship to assist with the
payment of his tuition. He was understandably excited. We are as well.”
Peters said Sanders will be part of the 11th Executive MBA cohort at Nicholls. He will be one of
13 individuals from around the state working to earn the MBA, and one of two from Central
“To make the program as interactive as possible, we limit class size to 15 participants,” Peters
explained. “The primary focus of our EMBA program is on business analysis and decision
support. Making sound business decisions requires that leaders recognize, collect, and analyze
business-related information. We provide them the tools to accomplish this effectively.”
“We are very proud of Mr. Sanders for his very positive impact within our welding and
manufacturing programs. He is a shining example to CLTCC students that education and
professional development continue throughout our careers,” said Jimmy Sawtelle, CLTCC
Sanders, who also has a BS in Business Administration from Louisiana College, said he
believes he is ready for the new challenge, which starts June 13. “I’m pretty good with
analytics,” he said, adding the program is typically designed for students with 10 or more years
of work experience, a mark he easily exceeds.
Sanders has a wealth of experience including private industry and education. After completing
his coursework at Alexandria Trade School, Sanders worked for Hayes Manufacturing for 17
years, where he served as Vice President of Operations. In 2015 he left Hayes and started work
with the Rapides Parish School Board, teaching welding at Buckeye High School before joining
the staff at CLTCC in May of 2019.
“It was probably about 10 years ago, when the Orchard Foundation got business people
together to talk about the Jump Start program, that I got interested in teaching,” Sanders said.
“Dr. Marjorie Taylor (Orchard Foundation Executive Director) was very instrumental in my
leaving manufacturing for education.”
Sanders said he remembers the speakers talking about how only about 25 percent of high
school graduates went on to college and only 20 percent earned a degree. Their point, as he
recalled, was that those 80 percent of students who didn’t pursue academics needed a new
path. “I was like ‘somebody finally got it right,’” Sanders said. “I thought about it, and I decided it
was time for me to give back.”
It’s a choice Sanders is pleased he made. “I love it,” he said. “The more positive impacts we can
have on students – the more they can see and hear from people with business backgrounds –
the more we can get them on the right track.
“The most rewarding part is seeing the impact we have on students,” Sanders continued. “One
of my favorite moments here at CLTCC is when I see the light come on for the student. It’s a
transformational moment for both the student and the instructor. It’s realizing we are going to
change their life and lifestyle for the better with a high-paying, high demand job and knowing I
have my fingerprint on that student.”
CLTCC will continue enrolling for Welding Technology programs through the summer semester.
Enrollment for all programs in the Summer and Fall semesters is ongoing. To enroll and
register, visit www.CLTCC.edu/apply. For more information, contact the school via email at
email@example.com or call 800-278-9855.